That's right, Week 1 of the MLS season is finally upon us, and before the first kick of a ball there are already plentiful storylines around the league. 


So what should you be watching for as the new season begins in earnest. Here's five themes to focus on in Week 1:


5) Is the past behind them?

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Maxi Urruti and Mauro Diaz will try to get FC Dallas back on track in 2018 | USA Today Sports Images


Even our own Matthew Doyle has never figured out how to explain just what happened to FC Dallas down the stretch last season. And while the calendar has turned and the club have had the opportunity to add some new pieces, the best way for Oscar Pareja's men to silence any doubters would be with a quick start to 2018.


After a disappointing CONCACAF Champions League elimination, they'll open at home Saturday against Real Salt Lake (8 pm ET, MLS LIVE) a side that performed far better down the stretch last season than their final record showed, and one built similarly to the blueprint Dallas has established over the last half-decade.


4) A clash of not-so-familiar faces


In what may be Major League Soccer's finest social-media rivalry, the LA Galaxy close the weekend Sunday by hosting the Portland Timbers (10 pm ET | FS1, MLS LIVE in Canada) in a Western Conference fixture that could feel familiar and strange at the same time.


Sigi Schmid's Galaxy will be under pressure to put last year's misery behind them, and show that additions like Ola KamaraJorgen Skjelvik and Perry Kitchen are enough to push a talented group to its full potential. Meanwhile, new Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese takes the reins as Portland officially open the post-Darlington Nagbe era.


3) How good can Atlanta be?


The pressure on Atlanta United came from within during a 2017 expansion season that wildly exceeded the general public's expectations. Now after retaining all their star contributors and adding faces like Nagbe and Ezequiel Barco (out 4-6 weeks due to injury), everyone expects big things in 2018.


But can Gerardo "Tata" Martino's men deliver? We may get an early sense of their capabilities when the Five Stripes visit the Houston Dynamo Saturday (3:30 pm ET | Univision, MLS LIVE in Canada) at BBVA Compass Stadium, one of the league's most difficult away venues.


2) A chance for revenge and rebirth


After succumbing to Toronto FC in last year's Eastern Conference Championship, Columbus Crew SC will have an early shot at revenge in another trip to BMO Field Saturday (1 pm ET | TSN in Canada, MLS LIVE in the US).


But following the departure of 2017 leading scorers Kamara and Justin Meram, can new arrival Gyasi Zardes turn his promising preseason into a complete rebirth under coach Gregg Berhalter? Or will the 31-goal drop-off last season lead to another slump similar to the one they suffered following their 2015 MLS Cup appearance?


1) Just who are LAFC under Bob the Builder?

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LAFC coach Bob Bradley tours his club's future home, Banc of California Stadium | LAFC


We will finally get to see what LAFC look like in a live competitive match under coach Bob Bradley when they visit the Seattle Sounders on Sunday (5 pm ET | ESPN, MLS LIVE in Canada).


MLS has changed dramatically in the 20 years since Bradley led the league's most successful expansion outfit, the 1998 Chicago Fire, to a domestic double. But Bradley has surely evolved also, after coaching the US national team and Egypt through two World Cup qualifying cycles and testing his mettle at the club level in Europe. 

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